My village children are used to my goodies, and used to demanding and claiming ... but the village children from across the railway track are a little more civilized in dealings with me. When I showed the set to Chandana, Class 3, her eyes widened at the beauty of the jewellery, but she refused to take it saying, 'My mother does not have Rs. 100/- to give'. When I told her it was a gift sent for her ... she refused to take it saying that she needed to ask her father first. As I insisted, I saw she was close to tears, and I stopped. I asked her to come the next day asfter speaking to her father - I know Ravi very well - and said that I would keep it carefully for her.
The next day she came shining with joy saying that her father had told her she could take the gift.
A couple of hours later when I was going to the school with Varalu carrying the milk, a tear streaked figure ran into my arms, 'Madam, someone has stolen my earrings'. Chandana had left it in her school bag, and it had got flicked.
I went to the school with her, helpless as her most precious possession had disappeared, and I knew I had no way of making up. A promise of getting another one later was I knew too feeble for a child when all her friends would be radiant in the jewellery.
The teacher took over ... and told the children, 'All of you go out and have a discussion. Find out who did it, and quietly bring it back and replace it. It must have been done in jest, but unless it is replaced, no milk , no lunch ...'. And I added what i thought was the final threat, "If it is not found, all the children repolace the earring sets - as none may have, what is denied to one among you'.
The kids saw that i meant what I said. ... and after five mintes they ran in with the 'lost box'. Rohit, all of three, had appearently filched it and gone to the sand pile nearby and buried it there. He has made a habit of burying things. Some children had seen some burying going on - and now went to check up. The treasure was retreived thus, and returned to the rightful owner . ... So they reported, and i know that the world of the children is theirs, and we adults will only hear and see as much as they will allow us to. so i rested the case there ...
Chandna's smiles outshone the chain and the earrings by far ... and the gods smiled.
let a few children build up health, a a few children lose themselves in the beauty of tin jewellery, let a few young women earn enough to give their children a better deal, let some eashwarammas have their huge burderns lessened somewhat ...may god help us to work on solutions that can be replicable and spread ...
let eashwarammas exist ... who can teach the children (and us) that it is posssible to give and give and give to each need - though it may mean that we go hungry tomorrow. let us at least allow such eashwarammas to exist by shareing our riches ... because we do not have that in us to live and propagate this dharmam ...
I corrected them saying it was 'Debu' as in their Devudu (Telugu for god), which become Debudu in bengali. Immediately Kavya flashed a smile of understanding and explained to others. 'Add Lina to Debu - as in Debudu or god.' Oh, its non stop entertainment with the village children.